The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) elected 130 of its members as associate fellows, including Virginia Tech’s Kevin Shinpaugh. Shinpaugh is a collegiate professor in the Kevin T. Crofton Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering

“The AIAA associate fellows personify the innovation that drives our industry forward,” said Dan Dumbacher, AIAA executive director. “The members of the Class of 2024 associate fellows embody the ingenuity and commitment that are crucial for developing solutions to the complex questions raised across the aerospace community.”

As the largest aerospace professional society in the world, the AIAA serves a diverse range of more than 35,000 individual members from 80 countries. Associate fellows have accomplished or been in charge of important engineering or scientific work, have done work of outstanding merit, or have made notable contributions to the arts, sciences, and technology of aeronautics or astronautics. This year’s associate fellows were recognized at the 2024 AIAA SciTech Forum in Orlando, Florida, in January.

Kevin Shinpaugh was recognized at the Associate Fellow dinner at SciTech 2024 at the Hyatt Regency Orlando on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024, in Orlando, Florida. Photo courtesy of David Becker, AIAA.
Kevin Shinpaugh (at center) was recognized as an asscoiate fellow at SciTech 2024 on Jan. 10 in Orlando, Florida. Photo courtesy of David Becker, AIAA.

Shinpaugh is also a member of the Center for Space Science and Engineering Research, also known as Space@VT. He serves as the capstone instructor for space vehicle design and works with students on many space related projects including CubeSats, sounding rocket payloads, planetary robotic competitions, high powered rocketry, and human-based mission designs. 

Shinpaugh was nominated by NASA Digital Transformation Officer and fellow Virginia Tech alumna Jill M. Marlowe. “Over his 30 year career, Kevin Shinpaugh has become a driving force translating academic instruction into engineering practice to prepare the next-generation workforce for aerospace,” she wrote in her nomination letter. “His impact on the aerospace community is profound, having mentored 115 design teams (more than 1,000 students) to become leaders in solving aerospace challenges with a minds-on, hands-on systems engineering approach enabled by cutting-edge skills to shape and propel our rapidly evolving market sector.”   

His service to the AIAA and the aerospace engineering community at large includes mentoring more than 30 AIAA undergraduate design teams since 2006 and serving on the leadership committee for the American Astronautical Society’s international CanSat Competition. In addition to sharing his passion for high-powered rocketry, small satellites, and human-based mission designs with his collegiate students, he has mentored K-12 students through Virginia Tech STEM camps and activities such as Kid’s Tech University, Summer High School Internship/Research Symposium and the ICTAS Diversity and Inclusion Program.

Shinpaugh has worked in the high performance computing field for the last two decades and serves as director of high performance computing and IT at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute/Biocomplexity Institute at Virginia Tech. 

Shinpaugh is a three-time Hokie, having earned his bachelor’s degree, master's degree, and Ph.D. from the aerospace and ocean engineering department. After graduation, he served as a postdoctoral research fellow at the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory, and as a research scientist at both F&S Inc. and Airak Engineering Inc. He also served as lead chief systems engineer at Xuma Inc. before returning full-time to Virginia Tech in 2001.

He has been the recipient of the College of Engineering Dean’s Awards of Excellence: Excellence in Teaching Award in 2022 and the National Institute of Aerospace (NIA) RASC-AL PEACH Award in 2022. To date, Shinpaugh’s undergraduate design teams have achieved an extraordinary 35 percent placement rate in a variety of competitive and challenging design competitions sponsored by the AIAA, NASA, and NIA/NASA RASC-AL. His former students include start-up CEOs, larger corporation C-suite executives, national aerospace award winners, and a NASA flight director.

Dumbacher added, “On behalf of the Institute, we recognize the families, friends, and colleagues who support the associate fellows as they contribute in such a meaningful way to the aerospace community.”

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